December 14, 2017

“Aloha kakahiaka” is how you might greet someone for breakfast at Wiamea Bay in the Hawaiian Islands.

12/14/2012. That is the day that a mentally ill, Adam Lanza, killed his mother and stole her weapons to kill 20 children between 6 and 7 of age, 6 other adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. Adam killed his mother before arriving at the school armed with a AR15 type rife and two pistols at 9:35am. These were just normal little kids safe at school like any other day. Except on this day five years ago these kids, their principle, teachers and staff were all killed where they stood because this sick person had access to powerful weapons. I still cry like a little kid when I think of those children’s last moments. “This just isn’t supposed to happen!” Check your PBS schedule for “Independent Lens – Newtown”.

“Free At Last!!! Free At Last!!!” My last device was snatched from the snapping jaws of ATT this week. Of course, it was right in the middle of a crisis when loosing one’s cellular connectivity could not have been worse timed. Thanks fellas! Cya!

We bought a new car this week. Well, after a great deal of research it turns out that buying a new car is not really the best value. So we bought a 2016 Mazda CX-5 that was the dealer’s loaner so it only had 8,000 miles on it. We used the NFCU car buying service which worked very well. We loved our old 2006 Saturn Vue but like so many of us elderly, stuff started to fall off. Thanks for the ride old friend!

This week I learned some stuff:

• Every once and awhile, I will get all squishy and reminisce about times in my past that became part of the equation that defined who I am today. I enjoy directing time like that. Challenging my mind to remember the details of an event or relationship from times past. This week I chose to sail back to a time when a new friend of mine taught me about martinis. In particular, how to make or provide exact instructions to a Pakistani bartender in Georgetown how to make “the perfect cocktail” or a very dry vodka martini. Now many of you may already shouting, “Pshaw! Pshaw!” at the very thought of using something other than gin for a martini. Pay them no mind. While a noble imbibment to be sure, Gin has no place in the perfect martini as its Juniper berry infused flavor inspires a heavy hand with the dreaded Vermouth. In fact, the perfect martini is nothing more than the correct way to eat an olive. Oh yes that, and to alter one’s consciousness. Some will express all kinds of preferences as to which Vodka should be used to construct this perfect liquid monument to civility. On the other hand after consuming just two perfect martinis, I cannot recall anyone ever commenting, “Oh doesn’t the brand of vodka make all the difference??” I do not think it is the brand of vodka that makes the perfect martini perfect. I do have favorite brand of Vermouth – Martini and Rossi Very Dry Vermouth. I have had the same bottle for decades. Its not my first bottle though (I dropped one in a move). The secrets to constructing a perfect martini are rigid and uncompromising as follows:
 –  Acquire the appropriate hardware and materials for the task at hand before you start. You will need: a martini shaker, two tall martini glasses, toothpicks, a container of high quality olives, a fifth of good quality vodka. a bottle of Martini and Rossi Very Dry Vermouth, a good natured companion with a dubious hold on self control, lots of ice and a comfortable table and chairs preferably with a view.
 –  Completely fill your clean martini glasses with ice and set aside
 –  Skewer 3 olives on each of 4 toothpicks and set aside
 –  Put enough vodka for four 4oz martinis (3.5 oz. per martini) into the shaker.
 –  Open the Vermouth bottle and stare into its dark green abyss. Leave it open until the martinis are poured. I have heard people might even pour some very dry vermouth into the shaker but I have never witnessed it directly.
 –  Add a ridiculous amount of ice to the shaker but make sure to leave enough room to shake the ingredients well.
 –  Dump the ice from the now chilled glasses and place a olive set in each while continuing to shake the shaker.
 –  Pour the liquid from the shaker over the olives and allow to stand for at least one minute. Some self control is required here.
 –  Raise your glass to toast now and click your glasses, if you must.
 –  Remove the olive set from your cocktail, pull one of the olives into your mouth and gently begin to crush it in your teeth. Fill your mouth completely with its olive-ness and then swallow 1/3 of your icy chilled martini. Repeat 2 more times until your martini has achieved its purpose.
 –  Smile and ponder the things that are so right about the world at just this moment.
 –  Repeat with the second martini

Website Update:
• New Vocabulary Quiz!!!
• This week I added the lyrics from,”Candle in the Wind ” by Elton John for your sing-a-long pleasure.

Writing and Painting Update:
• I started a new painting in class. So far I am not impressed.
• I am working another chapter in Artifacts. This is a tricky or at least pivotal one, where I have to lay out ‘the plan for my characters’ and take the first steps.

• During a really dark time in my life, I found my self surrounded by friendly strangers. I had lost everything while living in the nation’s capital. I found my first “new”friend in a 1963 VW bus. “Urge II” is the name I gave her. She helped me escape my failures in DC and visit an old friend I had left ungraciously the previous year. Then Urge promptly died. The time it took to fix Urge II gave me the time I needed to fix and re-invent a life long friendship that enriches me to this day. Then Urge and I were back on the road. I meandered my way South to park Urge outside my dear Grandma’s house for the six months or so, it took me to figure out I had fallen but that I could get back up. While there, I wandered into a local watering hole, a piano bar named “Sids”. These strangers in this dark bar, took the wounded in, dusted him off and allowed him to find the foundation that he needed to go on. Some of those great people are gone now. I have loss track of all but one. I like to think they all know how much I appreciated their help. They had no reason to take me in and help me get well but they did. Merry Christmas to all you caring strangers – Cowboy, Cindy, Lou, Betty, Sid, Jessica, Dale and all others that my shitty memory won’t hang on to any more!!

Music Update:
Click here for week’s UJT Radio program:
• Elton John — Candle In the Wind — The first time I saw Elton John was right after he released Tumbleweed Connection or as it came to be known, his country period. Even then he had a beautiful framed picture of Marilyn Monroe on his huge shiny black piano. I thought that was interesting. I was close enough to the stage to see who the woman in the picture was. I knew her. But I never knew her until he release this song on “Yellow Brick Road”. It changed everything I thought I knew about this beautiful young woman.
• Joe Walsh — Life’s Been Good — From the Vinyl!!!! This one helps keep your head on straight. Thats an easier task if you aren’t a great guitar player and consulate musical genius but I will take all the help that I can get. Thanks Joe!
• Steely Dan — Night By Night — From the Vinyl!!!! Its been just over a year since this one was featured on UJT Radio. It just makes me smile. This was a standard set by Somerset, the band I mixed sound for in the 1980s. Those boys did this great song soooooo good!!
• Bruce Cockburn — Deep Lake — This is beautiful instrumental that I featured over a year ago on UJT Radio. Its so peaceful it makes me almost wish for snow to watch fall in the moonlight. Close your eyes… just let it all go ..
• Donovan — Season of the Witch — Go ahead… we will wait… light your incense. I spent many sunny afternoons as a young lad in Miami pondering … “just what the hell is the season of the witch about.. then it just wasn’t so important that I knew that .. just that it was definitely was the Season of the Witch!
• Gavin DeGraw — She Set the City On Fire — I just like it. Thats all this is about. I hope you do too.
• Phoebe Snow — Take Your Children Home — I miss Phoebe. Her music caresses me and comforts me like no one else has ever done. I know we would have been great friends if we had ever met.
• Bruce Springsteen — Fever — From the Vinyl!!!! Maybe if its been awhile since you have seen or heard Bruce’s music, you might forget why they call him, “ The Boss”. This should bring it back into focus pretty quick.

That’s it… Do the best you can; Laugh every chance you get; And always remember … The best is yet to come!

As always, thank you for being my friend!

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